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Home-based businesses have more freedom to operate under new Seattle rules

Businesses like Yonder Cider in Phinney Ridge will now be able to operate from home during the pandemic with fewer restrictions.

SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council approved a measure Monday to adjust certain land use codes that have negatively impacted home businesses during the pandemic. 

Councilmember Dan Strauss sponsored the Bringing Business Home bill, which passed with an 8-1 vote Monday. The bill is designed to allow home-based businesses, including those that may have once operated out of a storefront, to operate with fewer restrictions during the COVID-19 civil emergency. 

Under the previous Seattle land use code, homeowners had to be able to fit a car in the garage, couldn't have a large sign outside, and it couldn't look like a business from the outside, and they had to offer appointment-only customer visits. 

This new legislation does away with those requirements. Home-based businesses will also be allowed to operate in a house's off-street parking stall or garage and have one non-illuminated sign with the business name on it. 

The legislation was brought up after Yonder Cider, a home-based business in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood, was shut down after an anonymous person filed multiple complaints about the business.

"It really came to a head in December, when we received violations from SDCI (Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections), which is the zoning department of Seattle, saying that as a home business, we were violating a few different things,” said Yonder Cider founder Caitlin Braam.

SDCI's code enforcement case involving Yonder Cider remains open, but the business has been allowed to operate while the City Council discussed the proposed changes, and now those changes are final.

"Our land use code cannot be the barrier to vibrant neighborhoods and a strong economy,” said Strauss in a statement Monday. “It’s essential we meet our businesses where they’re at: whether that’s out of their homes or garages.”

"The Land Use Code wasn't written with life in a pandemic in mind," continued Strauss. "This temporary legislation allows us to be responsive to our small businesses and make our neighborhoods more vibrant."

The new legislation is set to take effect in the next two months and will be in place for a year. 

RELATED: Seattle cider maker closing home-based storefront after neighbor complaints